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The Messier Catalogue was compiled between 1758 and 1782 by the French astronomer Charles Messier. As a comet hunter (he discovered 20 in his lifetime, 13 previously unknown), he wanted to compile a list of objects in the sky that he and other comet hunters may mistake for comets.
The final catalogue contains 110 objects, including galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. It is famous today as a collection of the most beautiful deep sky objects, all visible with binoculars or a small telescope.